our philosophy

p:ear builds positive relationships with homeless youth through education, art and recreation to affirm personal worth and create more meaningful and healthier lives.

We admire every homeless youth’s intelligence and capacity for humor and love in the face of great adversity.

On any given day in Portland, there are hundreds of homeless youth on the street. For the individuals affected, homelessness is personally devastating. For our community, the financial and opportunity costs are infinite. Together, we can create solutions. We can effect lasting, systemic change.

At p:ear, our work starts with the realities of today. It ends when young people find and embrace tomorrow. Our beauty—our core essence—is in everything in between. It’s in the kids, their daily experience, their struggles, and triumphs. It’s in their journey. 

We believe that together, we can change lives.

We know it’s possible. How? Our p:ear youth show us every day. At p:ear, we meet today’s needs. We offer love, build trust, and create hope. And then, through mentorship and experience, we support youth on their journey to tomorrow.

our approach

At p:ear, we regard youth homelessness as a critical human rights issue that needs to be addressed through a lens of dignity and respect. Our youth come from a variety of backgrounds and often face debilitating challenges including familial abuse; mental health challenges; incarceration; sexual minority issues; substance abuse; mental, emotional, physical and sexual violence; failure of state care systems; absent or rotating caregivers; and, various systemic injustices. They enter young adulthood feeling victimized, isolated and distrustful. Their stories are not just personal tragedies, they are a tragedy for our entire community.

The youth at p:ear lack job and life skills, work experience, training and confidence to find meaningful ways to gainful employment. While many factors lead to their homelessness, the overwhelming contributor is a lack of connection to a supportive community. These kids deserve opportunities and experiences in which to gain the confidence, skills and pride required to establish necessary economic stability while transitioning into a contributing adult members of our community.

p:ear assists youth to recognize themselves as strong and capable people, while providing them with supportive relationships and engaging opportunities.

In addition to providing a foundation of food and safety for youth through our Food and Kitchen Program, p:ear has 3 Main Areas of Focus: Education, Arts and Recreation. From interdisciplinary custom workshops and mentoring to our p:ear works job training programs (including the p:ear barista school, p:ear prints and the bike mechanic school), youth are guided through increasing levels of depth, engagement and responsibility, with an emphasis on the social, fiscal and practical skills that will serve them in their future.

p:ear works

“p:ear works” creatively builds pathways for youth to end their homelessness and poverty by providing meaningful job training and employment opportunities


Since its inception in 2002, p:ear has mentored over 5,200 youth.  

safe space

p:ear has provided over 320,000 hours of safe space and education, art and recreation programming.

our impact

Average number
of kids per day

Number of meals
shared per year

Youth enrolled at p:ear
since opening

Hours spent at p:ear
by youth in 2019

our story

Founders: Beth Burns, Pippa Arend, Joy Cartier

Founded in 2002, p:ear has provided invaluable mentoring services to Portland’s homeless and parent-less young people for over 15 years.

p:ear’s mission is to builds positive relationships with 15-25 year old homeless and transitional youth through Education, Arts and Recreation to affirm personal worth and create more meaningful and healthier lives. Each year, p:ear serves roughly 550 homeless young people. Currently, we see 65 youth per day.

p:ear was created from a vision of compassion. We believe that each youth deserves to empower themselves and to develop a positive self-identity that encompasses a sense of self-worth and a capacity for risk, growth and change.

our vision

  • Provide conditions that develop the intellectual, emotional, and physical skills that allow each individual youth to reach their highest potential. While important, we believe that food, shelter and employment are not enough to sustain these young people either on or off the streets. At p:ear, we model the practical aspects of providing for oneself both materially and emotionally and teach trust by trusting youth with full access to materials, food and bathroom facilities.
  • Create a mentor-based program that values flexibility and rebuilds bridges between youth and the community. p:ear provides programs that maintain opportunities for personal choice while giving youth the role models, guidance and support they need to make the transition into a meaningful and healthy adulthood. Youth and the community interact on a regular and equal basis, creating the potential for understanding and renewed interest on both sides.
  • Cultivate a place where homeless youth see themselves beyond homelessness. At p:ear, young adults are students, artists, writers, musicians and athletes, which encourages new depth in their perceptions of themselves and others. We believe that a life lived within the shackles of a restricted self-image lacks light, depth, inspiration and hope.

our people

founders & directors

Pippa Arend
Retired Co-Founder

Beth Burns
Executive Director & Co-Founder

Joy Cartier
Retired Co-Founder

Nathan Engkjer
p:ear Works Director

Antonio Camacho Martinez
Program Director

Brandie Harris
Development Director


William Kendall
Art Program Coordinator

Stephanie Chase
Operations Manager

Jessica Kain
Education Coordinator

Kaia Maclaren
Bike Works Coordinator

Tamara Chacón
Marketing and Development Coordinator


Come cook for us, teach a workshop or just be in our space interacting with young people. 


Volunteers in 2019


Average volunteer
hours per year


Volunteers have been with
p:ear for 5 years or more

our board

p:ear is grateful for our tremendous community of support!

Becky Polley
Parenting With Intent

Chris Huth, Treasurer
HomeStreet Bank

Constantin Severe
State of Oregon

Dave Boeckel
William Henry and Tanner Goods

Donald H. Friedman JD, Co-Vice Chair
Community Volunteer

Emily Goetz, Chair
Pyramid Communications

Harit Ghelani
MNIN / Court Appointed Special Advocate

Jennifer Bruml, Co-Vice Chair
Community Volunteer

Justin Oswald
Community Advocate & Entrepreneur

Patrik Antich
Piece of PDX

Philippe Boutros, Secretary
Cascade Insights

Sherry Copeland

Susan Johnson, MD
Oregon DHS, Office of Disability Determination Services